Arthur Andersen was born in Illinois on May 30, 1885. By age 16 he was an orphan. During the day he worked as a mail boy and at night, he went to school. In 1908, he received his bachelor’s degree in Business from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. By age 23, he became the youngest CPA in Illinois. Several years later the firm of Arthur Andersen was founded. They provided consulting, tax and audit services to corporations and by 2001 had become one of the world’s largest multinational companies.
But it all disappeared, almost overnight. In 2002, Arthur Andersen surrendered its license to practice in the United States. They were found guilty of charges related to fraudulent auditing practices. Poof…the firm was gone in a flash.
I have recently witnessed something like this in my own life. Some of you know the issues my church is facing. Our leader of 40+ years was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. Many of the women who came forward worked for him on the church staff. Even though he was widely criticized for it, over the years, he put women in positions of leadership at our church. I now question his motives for doing so. It has taken many years for these women to get the courage to tell their story. It is now clear that he abused his power as a leader and this has resulted in his and perhaps the church’s downfall. Abraham Lincoln said, “if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
The scandal resulted in him stepping down from his lead role about six months ahead of schedule and accelerated the appointment of two others to take his place. In the past four months, as more charges have been made against our lead pastor, these two people plus the entire board of elders have resigned.
I’ve attended meetings at church and read the statements these leaders have shared. Without exception, each of these people claims to have an undying love for the church they served. My church of 37 years. However, they feel called to leave it in its time of need. (Italics mine). Please… stop. I question your undying love for our church if you are so willing to pack up and bail when you are most needed. When your leadership skills are most needed. When things are tough.
To each of you who claimed to love our church but have decided to “resign,” your love has shown itself to be very conditional. And your leadership skills are sorely lacking. I wanted each of you to stay. To help us work through this. To lead us through this. But you have folded, claiming that you’ve been lead by God to leave. Maybe you have but the timing sure stinks. This makes me sad. No, it makes me angry. And it proves you are not the leader(s) we need.
I’m reminded of the church at Ephesus. The apostle Paul founded it around A.D. 52 and it was essentially dead by A.D. 96. The premier church of the first century was dead in 40+ years. Praying that doesn’t happen here.
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”